Newest Reviews for Inside Passage

Lily Azerad-Goldman of
October 2011

Matthias Breiter, biologist, author and award-winner photographer par excellence, opens a mesmerizing window on the awesome beauty of a natural treasure that is the INSIDE PASSAGE which encompasses 40,000 miles of shoreline from north to south. This protected sea route is a jewel among the natural treasures of the world due to its scenic grandeur and the profusion of life along its shores. As well, it is one of the last frontiers of ecological beauty still left intact by man.

His dreamy and misty landscapes are suffused with a dazzling light. Dreamscapes and sunsets low on the horizon on the snowy mountains, the hills on the water shimmer.

Grizzly in Morning Mist

Of course, this last frontier is still inhabited by wondrous sea life such as the humpback whales, orcas and dolphins, and shore animals and birds, bears, wolves, ducks and hummingbirds. Still birds and birds caught in flight, or eating their “lunch.” On page 199, he has taken an amazing picture of a rufous hummingbird resting during a rain storm on a flower stalk of cow parsnip. This is quite a feat as hummingbirds very seldom stay still in one place. He must have a very sophisticated shutter. Lugging such photographic equipment in the wilderness must have been a feat in itself!

From cover to cover there are many photo scenes filled with a great deal of depth and detail that caught my fancy including the Humback whale breaching near Juneau, Harris River, Prince of Wales Island, Tongass National Forest, Anan Creek in Flood where we see high river levels reduce the fishing success of bears, Misty Fjords National Monument that is also called “The Yosemite of the North, Peregrine falcons that are considered the fastest bird on earth and they can reach 200 miles per hour in a hunting dive, bald eagles swooping down to a spawned-out chum salmon along the Chikat River near Haines Alaska and the list goes on and on,  far too many more to mention.

This intimate portrait of one of the most scenic and biological diverse regions on earth is divided into seven sections:

  1. Route to the North – Inside Passage
  2. In the shadow of Volcanoes
  3. In the grip of Tides
  4. The Great Bear Rainforest
  5. The Heart of the Tongass
  6. Between Two Capitals and
  7. The Journey’s End.

As well, Matthias Breiter gives us a historical synopsis on who were the inhabitants of these faraway temperate rainforests.

To produce this gem of a coffee table book, he had to take long stretches of time away from his family. He sure was forgiven for his absenteeism when they saw the results of his wanderings.

Matthias Breiter is to be commended on this colorful reminder that we still have ecological treasures North of Canada.

As he so aptly put it, The Inside Passage is more the sum of its features. Above all, it is a gift to all mankind. Let us hope that it will stay this way forever.

By Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA)
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Photography, September 13, 2011

Inside Passage is the seafaring route on that goes between the northwestern coast of North America and the outer Pacific islands. The passage has for over a century been used as the main commercial and cultural passageway that connects the continental United States with Alaska. This route came into prominence and got its name in the late nineteenth century as the Alaskan gold rush brought countless adventurers seeking fortune. Inside Passage extends from the Alaskan panhandle in the north to Washington State in the south. In recent times the term Inside Passage has come to denote not only the sea route, but also all of the adjacent islands and mainland areas. This is an enormous area of almost unspoiled natural beauty and has become one of the most desirable tourist destinations. Matthias Breiter’s book “Inside Passage” is a visually stunning coffee-table book that goes well beyond what one can expect from this genre. The photographs are incredibly crisp and beautiful and they do the justice to this astonishing area. Breiter also provides a lot of useful information about the Inside Passage, especially when it comes to the biodiversity of this region. The writing is inspiring and easy to read, with a lot of personal insights. The book’s landscape format is particularly suitable for, well, pictures of landscapes. Some of the inside spreads are among the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. This is a great book about a remarkable region. It will inspire wanderlust in all true nature lovers. Short of setting out on a trip to visit the Inside Passage though, this book is the closest that one can get to appreciating its otherworldly beauty.


Polar Bears, Black Bears and Grizzlies in Hibernation – The Long Sleep

Some interesting things you may not have known about hibernating…

Polar Bears:

  • With the exception of pregnant females, polar bears do not hibernate in the winter, but roam across the sea ice in search of food.
  • Polar bears go into a state of ‘walking hibernation’ during the summer months – they do not enter a den but their metabolic rate is reduced.
  • They can switch readily between their active state and walking hibernation based on the availability of food- an ability that is exclusive to the polar bear.

Grizzly Bear in the Snow

Black Bears and Grizzlies:

  • Contrary to popular belief, it is not the cold temperatures that drive black bears and grizzlies into hibernation, it’s the lack of food. Bears in the zoo will not go into hibernation during the winter if they continue to be fed.
  • Bear gall bladders are used in traditional Oriental medicine to treat jaundice, abdominal pain and distention, often caused by gallstones. Research has revealed that bear bile contains a substance called ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), which will dissolve certain kinds of gallstones without causing substantial side effects. Today UDCA is produced synthetically for use in hospitals and as a prescription drug.

A bedridden person will suffer from muscular atrophy within a short time – weightlessness in space causes the bones of astronauts to weaken – even other mammals show a continuous loss of body protein when fasting – how do bears manage to stay curled up in their dens for months, and yet experience little loss of muscle mass or bone strength?

“…How bears maintain bone density is unknown. It is hormonally related, but how the biochemical processes work has yet to be discovered. Maintenance of muscle mass is accomplished through an almost complete recycling of metabolic waste products into proteins. This also prevents metabolic waste from accumulating and reaching toxic concentrations. we need to drink and urinate to flush nitrogen compounds out of our system. Otherwise, altered pH levels in the cells would cause our metabolism to collapse. The kidneys are in charge of detoxifying the body, and people with kidney disease or kidney failure depend on frequent dialysis to stay alive. If we could understand how bears recycle their metabolic wastes, the lives of many could be improved.

Their physiological feats have made bears popular research subjects for human medicine. The results of this research my provide new medications and treatment for diseases such as osteoporosis and kidney failure. The discovery of the hibernation induction trigger (HIT) may prove to be a milestone in organ transplants. Tissue deterioration results in as many as 20 percent of donor organs to be discarded. However, if the donor organs are perfused with HIT, tissue deterioration is slowed down threefold. There are other possible applications for HIT as well. A monkey injected with HIT fell asleep for six hours, it’s heart rate and body temperature dropped, and its appetite was depressed for almost a week. This suggests that probably all mammals, including humans, are responsive to HIT. If so, the hormone might prove useful in treating various conditions such as obesity and insomnia.”

Playtime in the Snow

Bears: A Year in the Life Chapter 10 – The Long Sleep